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Forums - Sony Discussion - "An Unbiased Review" - Guardians of Middle Earth (PS3)

Un Unbiased Review - Guardians of Middle Earth (PS3)





A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.


In the beginning, it was first person shooters. We console players are not supposed to have first person shooters. Then Goldeneye 007 came along and console owners got their first taste of a high quality multiplayer-driven FPS. In Then it was simulation heavy racing games. No, there's no way our consoles can handle something like that. But in 1998, we got Gran Turismo. We're not supposed to have RTS games either. But the genre really took off on consoles in the 2000's, beginning with the release of StarCraft 64.

Today there is a genre really beginning to take off in the PC world. That genre is Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. Or, MOBA for short. The general breakdown of this genre is two teams of players do battle on small maps in a purely multiplayer fashion. Teams can be comprised of entirely human players, or a mix of human and AI. The core of the gameplay is a mix of RTS, RPG, and action. The genre began as a StarCraft custom map, followed by the WarCraft III mod Defense of the Ancients (DotA). Now, DotA 2 is one of, if not the biggest game coming down the pipeline for PC players. In 2009 a game called League of Legends came out and brought MOBA to the masses.

The good news for console owners is that unlike other genres, which took forever to show up on consoles, MOBA has arrived early. And it's kicked off with a gem of a game in Guardians of Middle Earth.


The board is set... the pieces are moving.




Lets go a bit more in depth regarding the gameplay of this MOBA title. The games play out in 5v5 form. You can have 5 human players, or a mix of human and AI guys. The AI guys are extremely formiddable. At times, you'll have an AI teammate that is better than your human teammates. You have 3 lane battles, or 1 lane battles. A lane is exactly what it sounds like.. it's a stretch of the map. 3 lane battles have a middle lane, top lane, and bottom lane. Each team gets a base, which is comprised of their home shrine, 2 defense towers, and barracks. On each lane, you also get 2 defense towers. The objective of the game is to destroy the enemies home shrine. So, in order to do that, you have wittle down their defenses and make it inside their home base.

You do this by leveling up your character and becoming stronger. This is not a multiplayer title like Battlefield or Uncharted where your level progress is saved and you get all of your abilities you have unlocked right from the start. In this game everyone starts the game as a level 1 character. You level up by killing enemies. The enemies are the human or AI controlled characters, called Guardians, and fodder-like AI mini enemies, called minions in the MOBA world. Killing minions will be the bulk of your level up XP. As your character levels up, they unlock new abilities. And as you level up, you get to upgrade. You upgrade your defense towers, and you upgrade your barracks. Each upgrade is designed for specific roles. For example, if you are dominating a lane and have a high enough level, you might want to upgrade your closest defense tower to a healing tower. That way, when you are low on health, you don't have to retreat far to heal. Or, if you are losing a lane, you might want to make the tower a siege tower. A siege tower will shoot slow projectiles, but also fire off huge rocks that damage anyone in a circular area. Same with barrack upgrades. You start with weak soldiers. You can upgrade to mounted soldiers that can help slow down the enemies on a lane you're losing, or you can upgrade to siege type soldiers, which are huge Ents or Trolls, that toss rocks and can really help bring down towers. This is an offensive upgrade.

Each of the Guardians are unique all in name, appearance, voices, and abilities. You might recognize them.. they're from Lord of the Rings! There are 31 of them right now, though this number is a mix of free to use Guardians and premium content that you have to pay more to use. 22 of them are included with the purchase of the game. The Guardians are broken down into 5 classes:

Tactician - A Tactician tries to control the flow of a lane. He is less focused on kills and more focused on dealing damage over time and making it harder for enemies to progress. But make no mistake, with the right setup and the right player at the helm, a Tactician can deal serious damage and is dangerous for any foe. his class includes guys like Hildifons Took and Bert the Troll.

Enchanter - The Enchanters are your magical Guardians and wizards. They don't have as much health, but have decent resistance to basic and ability attacks. However, they deal massive amounts of ability damage. These are guys who might be kind of weak when you meet them early in the game and they're only a level 3. But then you see them 10 minutes later and they are level 13 and they remember you slaughtering them early in the game. And then you fly, you fools. Saruman, Radagast, and obviously Gandalf the Grey are some of the Enchanters.

Defender - The Defenders are the support class of the game. They are moderately weak in the damage they can deal but have extremely high amounts of defense. You want them around in a battle because they have many great enemy controlling abilities and can boost your own abilities. Defenders are usually what the AI chooses to be when there aren't enough human players in a game. A couple of the defenders are Eowyn and the Witch-King.

Striker - These are the guys who can deal a lot of basic attack damage and can really dominate a lane. They don't have as much health as other classes, but a high level Striker will take you down before you get a chance to take advantage of his low health. Heart throb Legolas, his Elf brethren Haldir, and Gollum are some of the Strikers.

Warrior - The Warrior class is kind of like the "jack of all trades, master of none" class. They are decent at pretty much anything. However, they are also the most moldable. You can turn a Warrior into almost anything that suits your playstyle. We'll get into how you do that a little later. Warriors include Gimli's father Gloin, Ugluk, and the Dark Lord himself, Sauron.

A red sun rises... blood has been spilled this night.
Ok so this has been quite a bit to go over just to set up the game. But when the arrows start flying and the swords start slashing, that's when the beauty of the game really shines through. On top of the different classes with unique roles and the different characters each with unique abilities and attributes, you further customize each character with what is called a Belt. Each Belt has 7 notches on it. You fill these 7 notches with 7 gems. Each gem gives you a different effect. Think of your gems as a perk from Call of Duty. Some gems give you extra health. Some give you extra basic attack damage. Your basic attack is the attack you just normally do. For example, a basic arrow attack with Legolas. Other gems give you ability damage bonuses. The abilities are the 4 special attacks you unlock as you level up. Using Legolas again as an example, he can teleport away from a fight. Or he can let loose a barrage of arrows that hits the opponent and does not do much damage but does slow them down.




On top of gems, you have relics. A relic also takes up notches on the belt. A relic can be 2, 3, or 4 notches long. Think of a relic as a streak award from Call of Duty. For example, the Dragon's Hoard Relic is a 4 notch relic that gives you +2% basic attack damage for each enemy you kill. So once you unlock it, you kill 20 AI minions and suddenly your basic attacks do 40% more damage (max is 40). Once you put a relic on the belt, you can then fill the relic with gems. In the picture above, the belt has a 2 notch, then 3 notch, then 2 notch set fo relics. They are all health related relics, and they are all filled with health gems.

This type of customization is both extremely rewarding and also extremely intimidating. This is definitely not the type of game you can just jump into and know what you're doing, unless you have MOBA experience. But if you invest the time required to learn the ins and outs of the game and the different layers of depth, you're rewarded with an extremely deep, strategic game not like anything else you can play on a console.


Give us that, Deagol my love.
I cannot deny that part of the appeal for this game, and most certainly part of my enjoyment from the game, stems from being a huge fan of the books and movies. It was not an accident that Warner Bros attached such a popular license to what was a fairly risky project. So if you're a fan of the lore, you're going to nerd out pretty hard on this game.





What Lord of the Rings fan does not want to charge into battle as Arathorn, father of Aragorn? Who doesn't wanna control Gandalf the Grey and go toe to toe with Saruman? Bilbo Baggins versus Snaga? Yes please. This is a huge draw to the game. Watching some of my favorite characters so battle.. it's become precious to me. Each character also has their own unique voice work. It is truly a joy for any fan of the work. However, it might serve as just another barrier for someone who is not a fan of the work. You'll have no idea who these people are. They are all given little bios, and the game itself is quite good. But something might be lost on gamers who have not read the books or seen the movies.



It is a strange thing that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing. Such a little thing.


Any game that revolves almost entirely around network play is only going to be as strong as its network. And unfortunately, this is the main area where Guardians suffers. While the connectivity and general quality of play have improved immensely since launch, there are still times where you will wait 3 minutes in a queue only to end up playing alone. And every now and again you will be in the middle of an epic match and find everyone disconnected. And when someone quits, the game will remove an AI Guardian from the other team, if possible. But if its not possible, then you're stuck being outnumbered. And in a MOBA game, being outnumbered is essentially a guaranteed loss.

There is hope though. The game gets pretty constant updates and great support. The patches and other things are rolled out via cloud, so there is no waiting for certification and downloading/installing. And as I said, it has actually improved dramatically since launch. Hopefully it continues to improve.


Even the smallest person can change the course of the future...

Guardians of Middle Earth is not just a great game, it's a successful kickstart to a genre on consoles that last generation would have seemed impossible. It's an extremely deep strategy game that is a blast to play, just be prepared to deal with some connection/latency hiccups along the way.

The game sells for $15 on PSN/XBLA, and I believe there is a $30 retail package that simply includes a download card. The extra $15 in the retail release includes the Season Pass, which gets you 8 additional Guardians and Survival mode, which is an extremely fun take on Gears of War's Horde Mode. Whether you go for the $15 base game or the $30 version with the additional content, you'll find an extremely rewarding experience that requires a bit of time to understand but becomes infinitely deep and replayable once you grasp it.



Gameplay - 9
Sound - 8
Replay Value - 9
Nerdery - 10
Online Play - 7

Overall - 8.6



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Having played a lot of MoBAs, I can say this game is a great game for those wanting to get into MoBAs but are scared of getting decimated. You will still have a tough time learning the song and dance of how MoBAs work but the majority are mic less (ps3) so it makes redicule almost non existant.



Excellent review bro XD I havent played this game but after reading this i definely may have to go and pick it up. Is it on steam?




       

It's only on XBLA/PSN.

It was recently free on PS+, might still be, idk.



J_Allard said:
It's only on XBLA/PSN.

It was recently free on PS+, might still be, idk.


I see. Ill def have to check it out.  NOt going to lie, ive never heard of this game until now.  I added you to the database by the way :)




       

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This game intrigued me when I heard the description that it's supposed to be a MOBA for consoles (and yes, who doesn't like LOTR, right?). So when it was free on PS+ I downloaded it immediately but I haven't had the chance to try it (PSN maintenance last nite).

I noticed it has already had several updates judging from the version 1.5 patch that the download applied. So shouldn't this have addressed the network problems described in the OP review?



It was definitely a game that had very little coverage (from what I found anyway). I haven't been online with it in a couple months or so, but I am super glad to hear the connectivity issues are better. I once waited 20 minutes before I just turned the system off. Haha. Thankfully I had my Vita with me so I wasn't just waiting. :)



Girthquake said:
It was definitely a game that had very little coverage (from what I found anyway). I haven't been online with it in a couple months or so, but I am super glad to hear the connectivity issues are better. I once waited 20 minutes before I just turned the system off. Haha. Thankfully I had my Vita with me so I wasn't just waiting. :)

Cool. Could you tell us a little about the gameplay? Does it feel cheap/sloppy/amateurish? Addictive?



Got it "free" on PS+ but haven't played it yet. Maybe I should, since I love Dota and Dota 2? Or would it just feel inferior?

Hmm...it IS lord of the rings though. Keeps things interesting



Definitely going to play this sometime in the future. I have never play a MOBA game except for Demigod. I am recently really interested in Dota 2 though.